Review: Garmin Forerunner 910XT and 920XT compared

When I starting training for Ironman Wales in 2013/14, I did a little bit of running and had experience of using GPS watches to clock my time, distance, HR etc. I knew I would need a a bit of an upgrade to a multi sport watch for Ironman, and after much review and consideration I opted for the Garmin 910XT.

The 910XT was a godsend allowing me to pace myself and undertake HR zone training. Although chunkier than the previous watches I had used, I quickly got used to its size, and loved how simple it was to switch between disciplines during brick sessions. The Forerunner 910XT was built as a triathlon watch and its features demonstrated that. The swimming functions gave me the ability to monitor not only outdoor swims via GPS, but also my indoor swims using its built in accelerometers. I had an easy quick release mount for the bike, which meant I didn’t need to buy an additional bike computer.

However, I finally got my hands on a 920XT recently which gave me the opportunity to compare the 910XT and 920XT, and as expected (given the advancement in technology) there are some differences between the watches.

In short, the 920XT is the evolved version of the 910XT with more support for swimming drills, enhanced running options and enhanced connectivity to our wider digital world.   With WiFi, Bluetooth & ANT+ options to connect to the internet/your phone/watch or computer it makes synchronising a whole lot easier.  I have always found uploading 910XT activities quite a laborious task because I can never find my ANT+ stick, so I’m really pleased with this upgrade.

Upgrades

Garmin have taken the small irritations of the 910XT, fixed them, and created a really good triathlon aid in the 920XT. Swimming-wise, the 920XT has better support for drills, with a new function for rest planning and the watch has the ability to tell you when you have to push off again.

Not a lot has changed cycling-wise, with some improvements in sensor options but Bluetooth is still only used for synchronisation. Cadence sensors, heart rate straps and power meters are still connected via ANT+.

When combined with its new HRM strap, the 920XT vastly improves running metrics with support for vertical oscillation, ground contact time, cadence and an integrated metronome. And if you want, it can even calculate your Vo2 Max!!

Software

There is a change in software and a move away from the menus used on the 910XT and the 310XT before it. The new menus are really easy to navigate so the change isn’t too painful.  My biggest headache with the 910XT was that it couldn’t be used as a watch, however I’m glad to report this has been rectified and once the power save mode kicks in a watch function is displayed. The 920XT is also reported to locate satellites quicker, reducing the time you are standing in the rain waving your hand in the arm.

Dimensions

The 920XT is lighter than the 910XT with a difference of 11 grams (61 & 72 grams respectively), which makes it less cumbersome to wear all day as a watch.  While 11 grams may not sound like a lot, you can really feel the difference. The 920XT is slimmer and the wrist strap is more pliable resulting in a more comfortable fit. The quick release system is still available for the 920XT with a set of 3 bracket/mount options for; 1) the watch 2) the strap and 3) the bike.

Battery

The 910XT had an impressive 20hrs battery life but the 920XT goes further with 24hrs in standard mode. The 920XT is said to be smarter in how it works because GPS is enabled and disabled automatically when you select a sport. If the watch is left idle it will jump to watch mode and lock itself, in this mode the battery should last up to four months. For those expecting their watches to die after one day, this is impressive!

Verdict

The upgrades on the 920XT solve most of the gripes I had about the 910XT ensuring this Garmin product range holds on to top position in the Triathlon market. The watch is not cheap with prices around £300 (£340 with a HRM) but I would recommend this to anyone who is in triathlon for the long haul.  The connectivity of this watch which links to your phone, ensures Strava or Training Peaks is updated in an instant- if that is important to you….upgrade now.  For the more budget conscious triathlete or those new to the sport, the 910XT is still a fantastic option for your training, whether you can get a reduced new version or a second hand model.  My 910XT is 5 years olds (I bought second hand) and still going strong but after reviewing the 920XT I am tempted to upgrade.

Hope this review helps. These watches can be bought on Amazon/Wiggle via this these links

Garmin 920XT on Amazon

Garmin 920xt with HRM on Amazon

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